The Iowa Economic Development Authority today approved tax credits to a pet food maker in Dubuque and a lip care products maker that wants to move to Cedar Rapids.

Combined, the companies plan to create more than 280 jobs that pay between $20 and $24 an hour.

The IEDA board approved $3.3 million in tax credits for Simmons Pet Food Inc, as well as an $800,000 forgivable loan.

According to board documents, the company is the biggest manufacturer of pet food in the country, making both dry and wet food for dogs and cats and dog treats.

The company plans to expand its wet food manufacturing capacity in two phases, with the first phase including the purchase of a building and renovating it for food production and the purchase of equipment. Phase 2 will include the purchase of additional equipment to support a second pet food canning line inside the facility.

The expansion will double the company's production, and include a 75,000-square-foot expansion of a distribution center and warehouse, board documents show.

The project represents a $79.5 million investment that will create 271 jobs, 206 of which will pay a qualifying wage of $20.49 per hour.

The company will also receive a nine-year Tax Increment Finance Rebate from the city of Dubuque valued at $2.16 million.

The board today also approved $238,000 in tax credits for Eco Lips Inc., a company that makes and distributes lip care products under the Eco Lips label.

The company plans to expand to Cedar Rapids, where it will purchase a building that will double the company’s manufacturing and warehouse space to accommodate future growth and expansion.

The project represents a $5.6 million investment that will create 13 jobs that will pay a qualifying wage of $23.20 per hour.

In an additional action today, the IEDA board approved a grant of more than $2.9 million to IIHRHydroscience & Engineering at the University of Iowa. The grant will be used for the Iowa Wastewater and Waste-to-Energy Research Program Innovation Center and Tech Park, which is located at the Iowa City Municipal Water Resource Recovery Plant.

According to board documents, the funding will be allocated over five years for instrumentation and equipment needed to build the facility, which will support "critical fee-for-service analyses unavailable in Iowa to support local wastewater and waste-to-energy stakeholders."

A primary function of the facility is to provide real-world pilot scale data that can be used by technology developers, the industry and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to advance the state’s ability to treat waste, generate renewable energy, protect the environment and develop the state’s economy.

According to board documents, the facility will fill the gap in available data and help small and medium-sized technology developers create solutions to the state’s wastewater treatment challenges.